Just as the COVID-19 outbreak led to the cancellation of all spring 2020 study abroad programs, many students considering studying abroad in the coming fall semester now fear those too will be canceled.
According to Elise Gold, director of communications for international affairs, Cornell has not “made final decisions yet regarding fall study abroad” and is “monitoring the situation.” Even so, students have expressed apprehension that the coronavirus will once again throw academic plans into turmoil.
“I’ve made academic and extracurricular plans around my plan to go abroad, so if it falls through I’ll be devastated,” said Moriah Adeghe ’21, who is scheduled to spend fall 2020 at a Cornell-run program in Granada, Spain.
According to Adeghe, she has not received any COVID-19 related updates from the program. Although she understands that all plans are subject to evolving circumstances, Adeghe said she wished the University would be more forthcoming about its decision-making process.
“I know these times are so unpredictable so I don’t expect a concrete answer of whether or not the program is cancelled right now, but it would be nice to know when to even expect that info,” Adeghe said. “Will I know in the next month? Will I find out in July? Just getting a ballpark of when we will know would be great.”
While some non-Cornell run study abroad programs have been more forthcoming with basic contingency plans, students are still concerned about what would happen if programs are cancelled before the beginning of fall semester.
Ariana Croese ’22, who is scheduled to study abroad in Berlin for both fall 2020 and spring 2021, is worried about potentially being forced to take a second semester online if her study abroad program is cancelled.
Despite her concerns, Croese does not plan to withdraw from the program. If she cannot attend in the fall, she is still guaranteed a spot during the spring semester.
On March 12, Lindsey Forg ’22, who was accepted into a climate change focused study abroad program in Argentina run by the School for International Training, received an email from the school describing various contingency plans should programs be cancelled due to COVID-19 risks.
“It is really hard to plan for something so uncertain,” Forg said.
When Forg contacted the Office of Global Learning about housing and course registration concerns should her study abroad program fall through, she said she received a generic email directing her to other departments.
Like Croese, Forg is worried that in the event that SIT is canceled, Cornell University would also be online. Due to the remoteness of the SIT program location, Forg believes that her program would more likely be cancelled due to conditions in the United States than risk in Argentina.
“I think if my study abroad program were canceled, Cornell would be online. In that case, I may just take a semester off. It seems ridiculous to pay tuition for online classes,” Forg said. “I don’t want another semester of what is going on right now.”